I have been writing poetry lately—something I haven’t done in years. I don’t know what happened, but something sparked me to start in again (writing poetry was one of my main creative actions all through college and just after).
Since it’s been several years, in a way I feel like a beginner again—experiencing more than ever what it means to get the ball rolling in a specific creative way. At first I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sustain writing for more than a couple of days, but now I’ve been writing regularly for more than a month (still a pretty small chunk of time, but I must celebrate these small victories), and I can safely say that I’ve gotten the momentum going.
What has been so funny to me is that the same realizations are coming up for me with poetry as have come up for me around visual art. Yesterday I was sitting outside trying to drum up some start for a poem, and I had nothing, but my sense of duty/guilt to try and write a little bit every day kicked in, and I started writing randomly. While I wrote I thought to myself, “This isn’t going anywhere, it’s just going to be another boring waste of paper.” But I kept writing, and by the end of the page I was startled to find a direction for a poem there, and I took it along to the next page and wrote that poem, and felt a joyful glee that I had written a poem again!
This sort of thing keeps happening to me every day I keep writing—I fear that I won’t have anything to write, but I sit down anyway and something interesting comes up—something I never could have imagined had I just skipped writing because I didn’t feel inspired. This is pretty much the entire story of my visual artwork—open a space regularly for art and it will come. I find that the key is not only to open a space (therefore inviting in the creative ideas by allotting specific time to your creative work), but also to do it regularly, because it is only from doing something over and over and over again that you will learn how to do it and really get to benefit from being immersed in something enough to start building creative momentum.
Right now, I’m really enjoying the process and seeing where it takes me. Of all the art I’ve ever experienced, it is reading poetry that has stopped me cold and changed me the most. This is why I have loved it ever since I was a teenager and studied it in college. Why did I stop writing? I don’t really know, although poetry has been a big part of my visual art all along. But to write one good poem—one poem that cuts through everything and says the truth in a thoughtful singing way, that would be something wonderful, something worth working for. I figure that if I spend the next three years writing, I will be closer to that goal than if I don’t. And so, I keep on.